An Etymosophy of 'Hierarchy' (and 'Hierarch')

  • Title: Contemplationam, An Etymosophy of 'Hierarchy' (and 'Hierarch').
  • Author: Arvindus.
  • Publisher: Arvindus.
  • Copyright: 2021, Arvindus, all rights reserved.
  • Index: 202106261.
  • Edition: html, first edition.

The English word 'hierarchy' is most generally used to denote "[a] body of persons or things ranked in grades, orders, or classes, one above another",1 and refers more specifically to "the collective body of angels"2 and the "rule or dominion in holy things" or "a system of ecclesiastical rule"3. Etymologically the word stems, together with the Dutch 'hiërarchie' and the German 'Hierarchie', from the Greek 'ierarchia', denoting the rule over or from holy matters.4, 5 This Greek word itself is compound of the words 'ieros', referring to holiness, and 'arche', referring to a rule,6 and a hierarchy can thus etymologically be understood as a holy rule.

In this latter sense 'hierarchy' can be seen as somewhat synonymous with 'theocracy'. For the English word 'theocracy', like the Dutch 'theocratie' and the German 'Theokratie', stems from the Greek 'theokratia', consisting of the words 'theos', meaning 'god', and 'kratos', meaning 'power',7 giving 'theocracy' basically the meaning of 'godly power' or 'godly rule'.8 'Theocracy' however has its own etymology and etymosophy and may despite its with 'hierarchy' overlapping semantics have its very own core of meanings.

So 'hierarchy' in its etymological roots consists of the Greek 'ieros' and 'arche', referring to a holiness and a rule. This latter word 'arche' has already been contemplated on several occasions where it was found that it can be reduced to the Greek characters 'Χ' ('chi') and 'Ρ' ('rho'), the very same characters to which the name 'Christ' can be reduced and which constitute the well-known chi-rho monogram.9 This makes 'arche' and 'Christ' in a sense interchangeable terms and 'hierarchy' can as such thus also be interpreted as related to the holy Christ. The holy Christ is the hierarch and the hierarchy.

That Christ is both the hierarch and the hierarchy should be rightly understood, for indeed do 'hierarch' and 'hierarchy' despite their intimate relation not refer to exactly the same. The term 'Christ' may in the ageless wisdom refer to three givens. Firstly it may refer to the Christ principle, being the principle of the soul and of love.10 Secondly it may refer to a specific and central position within the holy kingdom,11 being the kingdom of souls, which comes after the kingdoms of minerals, plants, animals and humans.12, 13 And thirdly the term 'Christ' may refer to Jesus of Nazareth,14 who in the ageless wisdom is considered to have been overshadowed by the second and to have been symbolizing the path for man to the first.15, 16 Now when we understand Christ as the Hierarch (now as a name written with a capital) we understand Him as occupying the Christ position within the holy kingdom, however when we understand Christ as the Hierarchy (now also as a name written with a capital) we understand Him as the Christ principle. For in the ageless wisdom 'Hierarchy' is the term that is used to refer to the collective that embodies the Christ principle and constitutes the holy kingdom.

The Hierarchy as the ieros arche is the holy rule of the Christ principle, and the Hierarch as the ieros arche is the holy ruler of the Christ-position at the formers centre.